Argentina accuses Britain of ‘new provocation’ over Falklands

hms-irondukeArgentina has accused Britain of a “new provocation” on the Falkland Islands after a Royal Navy warship carried out a firing exercise in the South Atlantic.
In the latest round of antagonism over the disputed islands, Buenos Aires angrily denounced a training mission carried out by HMS Iron Duke as “an unwarranted show of force”.

The frigate fired 136 shells onto a target range on the Falklands in mid-October, in what the Ministry of Defence (MoD) called a routine exercise.

The Argentine foreign ministry responded on Thursday with a furious statement, calling the shooting “a new provocation by the United Kingdom Government by a purported demonstration of firepower”.
“Argentina rejects in the strongest terms the conduct of these military and naval maneuvers in Argentine territory illegally occupied by the United Kingdom, which constitute an unwarranted show of force,” the foreign ministry said.
The ministry also summoned Richard Barlow, the number two diplomat in Britain’s Buenos Aires embassy, and gave him a letter protesting the military exercises.
An MoD spokesman said: “Royal Navy warships undertake regular training in the use of their weapon systems. The gun fire exercise conducted by HMS Iron Duke in the Falkland Islands took place some weeks ago in October and was part of a routine training schedule planned long in advance. There is no change to the UK’s defence posture in the South Atlantic.”
It is not clear why the Argentine government decided to protest the HMS Iron Duke’s firing exercise three weeks after it occurred.

The South American regional bloc, Mercosur, met this week in Uruguay and held a special session on the sovereignty of the islands. The Mercosur parliament, which is made of representatives from Argentina, Brazil, Paraguay, Uruguay and Venezuela continued in a long tradition of passing resolutions denouncing British sovereignty of the islands.

While Britain has ruled the Falklands for nearly 200 years, Argentina has always objected to what it calls the “illegal military occupation” of the islands it refers to as Las Malvinas.

In March last year, the islands’ 1500 residents voted 99.8 per cent to remain a British territory. Only three islanders voted against continuing UK sovereignty.

The Argentine foreign ministry also objected to “a British infantry company which is part of the permanent military deployment of illegal occupation of the United Kingdom in the Falkland Islands.”

The MoD said there had been no changes to its deployment and that ground troops had been stationed on the islands since the Falkands War in 1982.